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Monday 1st Jan. Evo-Stik Premier Frome Town 1 Merthyr Town FC 2

Frome Town probably deserved a share of the points in this match but sport is rarely fair and after taking a one goal lead in the first half through a solo Jon Davies effort and being on top for long periods, they missed a glorious opportunity to double the lead in the 53rd, then took their foot off the pedal and allowed Merthyr to strike back with two second half goals from the experienced Ian Traylor to win the match 2-1.

With top scorer Jake Jackson having departed for Chippenham over the Christmas break, Kris Miller suspended and Marcus Mapstone and Mitchell Page unavailable, Ben Griffiths and Ryan Bath started the match and Frome could only include one regular on the subs bench in the form of George Miller who is still recovering from a knock. However, Frome were very pleased to include the returning Connor Roberts in the starting line up after a protracted waiting period caused by the FA insisting that players previously under contract could not move clubs outside of the transfer window.

After the recent rain, the pitch was perfectly playable, though the going could best be described as “heavy” and   the match kicked off in bright conditions with a stiff, cold wind blowing from the Club House end. Frome were the first to show as Darren Jefferies cut in from the left and pulled the ball back for Ryan Bath, who appeared to be shoved in the back as he went for the ball, but no whistle was blown for the challenge.

Jon Davies brought the first save of the match in the 7th from his namesake Oliver as he cut in from the right after good work from Hemmings and Bath. But a few minutes later, Connor Roberts reminded the fans why he had won so many ‘man of the match’ awards the previous season, with a perfectly-timed sliding tackle to save the day as Merthyr found their feet for the first time.

Merthyr then moved into a period where they started to spend more time in the Frome half, but without creating any chances and Frome fashioned out a chance in the 29th as Ben Withey hit a left wing cross that  Jefferies set up for Davies to shoot, but the shot cleared the bar by a long way.

However, Frome did take the lead in the 36th as Joe Raynes charged down a shot and fed the ball to Davies, who then went on a run that started in his own half, beat three challenges as just as he approached the edge of the Merthyr area, the ball seemed to run away from him allowing Oliver Davies an easy sliding challenge to clear the ball, but somehow he sliced the kick straight into Davies who, after a momentary pause to work out where the ball had ended up, recovered quickly and netted from 15 yards for a very good individual goal.

Frome then probably had the better of the match leading into half time but couldn’t really carve out any more chances. They carried on in the same way at the start of the second, with Raynes bringing a good low save in the corner from Davies after a good flowing move had opened up the visitors’ defence.

Frome had a huge chance to make it 2-0 in the 53rd as a poor clearance from the Merthyr keeper went straight to Ryan Bath who then set Jefferies free on the right and he unselfishly found a perfect pass to the unmarked Jon Davies, who is normally lethal from ten yards out, but this time perhaps the ball bobbled and his shot cleared the crossbar by a large margin, a missed chance that Frome would later regret.

Methyr equalised in the 65th with a goal that seemed so simple in execution, you wonder why it doesn’t happen more often. An innocuous looking ball out to the left was pulled immediately back inside and Traylor had an easy task to drive the ball into the net with Kyle Phillips having been dragged out of position.

At 1-1, Frome seemed to go a bit more on the defensive and lose some of their attacking impetus, allowing Merthyr to generally play more of the game in the Frome half and they started to look like the side more likely to score the next goal. With Phillips bringing off a good save in the 76th, the home crowd started to get a little uncomfortable, and that feeling was found to be accurate in the 79th as Traylor chased a through ball with four Frome defenders all appealing strongly for offside and as he arrived at the ball just before Phillips, he lobbed the ball over the stranded Frome keeper into the net to make it 2-1 to the visitors.

The goal provoked Frome into more life and they stepped up the tempo going for the equaliser, with a Davies shot going just past the post after Sam Teale had headed a free kick back to him, but the equaliser seemed like it just wasn’t going to come on the day. The match effectively ended with straight red cards for Frome’s captain Sam Teale and Merthyr’s Craig Reddy as a wrestling match erupted in the Merthyr box as Reddy felt that Teale had gone to ground a little too easily after a challenge.

The resulting dropped ball in the penalty area came to nothing and the visiting fans could celebrate their victory which had probably seemed a long way off a few weeks ago when they were hammered 13-1 at Chesham as the club faced huge financial problems and were forced to field a junior side.

Joe Raynes was awarded the H&B Tyres Man of the Match Award by the Frome Ultras who had sponsored the match.

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